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The Political Approach to the Classical World 25
architect Imhotep built him the beautiful limestone temple of
carved columns and fluted pilasters at Saqqara. It was the age of
Pyramid Builders. Zoser's tomb was out-topped by those of
his successors of the Fourth Dynasty, Cheops, Chephren, and
Mycerinus, who mustered the resources of the State for vast
building enterprises, to ensure that their bodies should have a
safe resting-place and so secure immortality.
Meanwhile the Surnerians maintained their local dynasties.
In the south of Mesopotamia the ruler of a city-state occasion-
ally managed to impose his rule for a time upon other indi-
vidual cities; thus Eannatum of Lagash conquered Ur and
Uruk, and Lugal-zaggisi of Umma even claimed to have carried
his arms from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. But such
ephemeral successes seldom outlasted their authors; the first to
take a lasting hold on the Valley of the Two "Rivers were new-
comers from the West.
It is probable that the Surnerians had already long been in
contact with the nomads of the western deserts. These peoples
of Semitic speech must have been constantly filtering into the
fertile plains and settling there. Now, however, there was a
wave of invasion, impelled by we know not what movements of
populations farther west. Some made their way to the north
of Mesopotamia, subduing the original Subarean inhabitants and
putting an end to that flourishing Sumerian civilization in
which Asshur had hitherto taken part. Others, known to us as
the Akkadians, reached the central part of the valley and estab-
lished a strong dynasty at Agade, near Kish, whence they set
out to conquer Sumer. These two groups may or may not have
been related. They spoke Semitic dialects akin but far from
identical, and each must already have contained a considerable
mixture of racial elements. The northern group, the first
Assyrians, retained for a time their individuality. But the
Surnerians of the south took their conquerors captive, and the
new-comers wrote their own tongue in Sumerian cuneiform